Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dear David...{Boundaries: Letter 18}

Dear David...

You are one very active two year old. As I write this, right now, you are jumping on "daddy's bed" (your nickname for our bed) and catapulting into the pillows. I've been feeling so overprotective lately the more you explore. And I really don't mean it in a negative way. So I felt like I needed to write this so will understand my desire for you to understand boundaries.

When we cross the road, I explain how we must keep our feet behind the lines. But your innocent curiosity, though super cute, is also super scary for mommy and daddy. Without thinking, you dart across without realizing the danger. Boundaries don't always keep you from good things. That was a lie I bought into growing up. I was rebellious because I thought no one wanted me to have fun. It wasn't until I got older that I saw what was truly on the other side of the line...and that those who tried to implement boundaries were trying to actually protect me.

Bro. John preached on a Wednesday night a few years ago and I want to share with you what he said because it touched my heart. He spoke about the need for boundaries as Christians. The Shepherd sets up a fence to protect us but our gaze is often so focused on what's beyond the fence, that's our only desire. We crave to be on the other side because it looks better. Our eyes are not in tune with the Shepherd's because if they were, we would notice the wolf waiting for curious sheep to leave His side.

So while it may seem like the fence is holding you back, it's actually saving your life. Sounds a bit extreme and I don't want to make you scared. It's good to take chances and try new things. That's not what I'm talking about. What I'm saying is the adults in your life see things you do not. So when you are growing and learning, trust the boundaries we set even if they are annoying or don't make sense.

Just like our God has boundaries for us, we also must live within safe fences. This mindset is not popular in today's world. No one has boundaries anymore. But I'm here to tell you that just because your friend's parents have a different set of are not their child. You are ours. You are God's. We have a standard and a purpose. And we will do our best to teach you what it means so you don't just obey out of habit or ritual.

When you have a relationship with the Shepherd, the words of the wolf don't matter to the sheep. Because they are too close to the Shepherd and only obey His voice. The enticing spirit of the wolf does not effect those who are not hovering by the fence edge. But those who wander away from the Shepherd's side are less likely to hear His voice and fall into the trap of the enemy.

Just remember that boundaries is another way to express love. Just like marriage, boundaries must be set in order for that marriage to work and be the best it can be. Without boundaries, tragedy lies. So please know that our hearts are on your side, not against you. As you grow, keep your gaze on the Shepherd and ears on His voice. And you will find everything you need by His side.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Recipe: Roasted Eggplant Linguine

It's been a while since I've shared a recipe and that's basically because I only want to share yummy things that are different and/or super yummy. My schedule has been insane lately, in a good way but the meals haven't been anything to write about. I've been busy than ever creating content for DIY Candy and getting ready to relaunch Hello Awesome Tees. No matter how crazy life gets, we still need to eat. And I don't mind that one bit.

Lately, I've been wanting to incorporate more healthy options for pasta. The canned sauce just hasn't cut it for me lately. There's really nothing like fresh tomatoes and organic herbs. Throw in a veggie like zucchini or eggplant, and you've got yourself a gourmet supper. I received a box of ingredients from Hello Fresh accompanied with awesome recipes. They didn't send it with the intention of having me write a post, so this is all my opinion and the recipe altered a bit to fit my family's tastes.

Here's what you'll need:

1 Eggplant
6 oz Linguine
2 Cloves Garlic
1/2 Onion
1-2 Teaspoon Sun-Dried Tomatoes
1 can Tomatoes
2 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1/4 cup finely chopped Parsley

First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the eggplant into bite-sized pieces and toss with a dash of salt and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Spray a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and cook the eggplant for about 30 minutes or until the "meat" of the eggplant begins to brown.

Add the remaining olive oil to a large pan on medium heat. Dice the onion, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes then add to the pan. Toast for about 5-10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and stir. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, cooking the linguine until al dente. Drain the noodles and stir them right into the sauce.

Add the eggplant to the sauce and noodle mix. Serve immediately with a spoonful of the finely chop fresh parsley. Yum!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Secret To Bossing It Online

This little brain of mine has absorbed a lot of helpful information these past 4 years. It was in 2010 that I was laid off from my job and found myself home with a heart full. Not full because of sadness and worry. Full of ambition, passion and drive but not a vehicle in which to burn it.

Flash to now and I'm still full but in a different way. I want to let it out, share insights with you, nuggets of knowledge in hopes you can turn them into pieces of solid gold action. As a blogger and shop owner, I get questions all the time. I used to do that. I used to be the one who emailed someone with a blog I loved, hoping to "get in" on the good stuff in their minds. I used to follow shops and owners who bossed it every day, making killer sales and still were humble enough to answer the measly question of an art geek from New England.

But can I tell you? I still do that. And no question is ever "measly". I still email bloggers I love, trying to connect and learn. I still look up to people who run amazing shops and take notes about how the do things and interact with customers. Why? Because learning never ends. I don't consider myself a professional. Just a girl with a notebook full of dreams that are unfolding for everyone to see.

This is why I want to share with you a huge secret. I call it that not because no one wants you to know. Everyone knows. It's only a secret because not all of us can see it. We are blinded by so many things that the basics get blurred. Let's go back, shall we?

I recently read a post by fellow artist Gary Bolyer called "How to Sell Art Online: The Secret Sauce." Hold it. Don't close this tab just because you don't sell art. We are talking about bossing it online, whether it be as an artist, blogger, shop keeper or small business owner. What Gary had to say applies to all areas and I love it because it's the truth.

If you look at any successful person online, you will see that they have fantastic relationships. Did you catch that? The secret is relationships!

Gary says: "The Secret Sauce has two ingredients.  Ingredient Number One is: Get the relationship started. And Ingredient Number Two is: Grow the relationship." Boom. Any questions? And Gary knows what he's talking about; he has over 13,000 followers on Twitter.

I was so busy when I first started spamming social media with links to my products, shop and blog. Instead of commenting about what I loved about a post, I pleaded for them to follow me and dropped a link (I'll be talking about this more on a future guest post.) We almost don't want to work for customers but we expect them to just eat up everything we dish out. Fact: people don't like being force fed.

Love my new tote from Faces!

Think of the best restaurants you've been to. It's not just because they have amazing food. That's only part of it. A restaurant can have awesome meals and a killer menu but if the hostess is chomping gum like a cow, the waitress forgets everything and the cook is back there blowing his nose without washing his what? Exactly. Your favorite place to go eat is not actually about the food...but the connections you make. We love that the owner knows our name, takes time to ask how things are, the waiter is kind and the chef is professional.

So whether you are a seasoned blogger or a newbie shop owner, the secret is the same. Spend more time building relationships and less time worrying about promotion. If you invest in people, they will invest in you.

I wanna hear from you! It's so important to learn from each other and have teachable spirits.  

What's one thing you've learned about blogging or being a shop owner? 

Friday, July 18, 2014

30 Things I Learned in 30 Years

Shine Confetti Tubes / available here

I was debating whether or not to do a list-type post today. You see, today is my 30th birthday...did I just write that? It really feels odd seeing it typed out because honestly I still feel like the insecure 18-year-old some times. And yet, I don't. It's weird.

Today I'm a Christian, married to my best friend, mother to an amazing boy and working for myself as an artist, a dream I've had since age 8. As I look at how my life has unfolded, I see God's faithful hand holding me and guiding every step. There are stories of struggles I would never publicly share and personal victories that only He can understand. Through it all, I'm still standing. And this is what I've learned in 30 years of being alive:

  1. Never give up. Ever.
  2. Love beats fear. Always. (1 John 4:18)
  3. God is God, no matter what we say.
  4. Positivity goes a long way.
  5. Always air out the car on a hot day before sitting on leather. Ouch.
  6. If someone is taking a chance loving you...let them. 
  7. Always yield to blessing your spouse even when you don't feel like it.
  8. The baby will play with messy things. Let them.
  9. Laughter has healing powers.
  10. Talking on the phone makes my skin crawl. (Never been my thing.)
  11. Spray paint is a gift from heaven.
  12. Being a pessimist is like purposely drinking poison and then complaining about it.
  13. Scars and memories don't fade but chains can be broken.
  14. The past is just that. The past. Let things go as quickly as you can.
  15. Choose Joy. Every time.
  16. Never walk barefoot in a gas station rest room, Britney. Come on girl.
  17. The music you like will speak more about who you are than you will.
  18. Being a mother is the best thing ever invented. Thanks Jesus.
  19. Old people are actually smart.
  20. Praise God at all times.
  21. Television wasn't cool until Psych was born.
  22. Ginger will always be in the Spice Girls. Always.
  23. Being married is a privilege, not a right.
  24. Charity starts at home.
  25. Let go of stress. Life is too short to worry about things you can't control.
  26. His thoughts are wayyyyyy higher than my thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)
  27. My man is crazy hot and awesome.
  28. My son is crazy amazing and incredible.
  29. Money is temporary.
  30. Age ain't nothin' but a numba

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Paint Dipped Tin Can Holder

This is the time of year every one yearns for. Good food, good company, good weather. Next time you have a gathering or celebration, save money by not buying fancy-shmancy utensil holders. Instead, wash out a couple of tin cans and create something people will talk about! These are super cheap and fun. Match the colors to your outside decor or to the party theme you are throwing.

You'll need:
Tin cans, washed and dried
Spray paint (I used Rust-Oleum. Worked perfectly.)
Drop Cloth
Painter's tape

Make sure the cans are washed with a bit of soapy water and dry with a paper towel. Then peel off any label stickers. Beautiful already, right?

Use the painter's tape and cover the top area of the can. This will ensure that part stays the cool silver metallic shine tin cans have.

Lay down a dropcloth in a well ventilated areas like the paint can says (or just outside like I did) and evenly spray with the can. It might need two coats depending on the color. I sprayed it pretty heavy which only made the drying part longer. Peel the tape off while still wet. Allow to air dry for about an hour or two; or until the paint isn't tacky anymore. 

Finally, flip those bad boys over and drop in some funky colored utensils. It's party time! You can also try stencils, washi tape and vellum stickers to decorate the cans. Personalize it with a person's name or table number. These would also make amazing vases!

Have you been enjoying family time this summer? I sure have. Any funny or interesting stories you'd like to share? I'd love to chat about it in the comments!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DIY Kitchen Palette Shelf

There's this area right across the street from our church where people pile stuff they don't want. The last time was this amazing table we picked up for our son's train set. As we were driving away from church a few weeks ago, I noticed a couple of palettes on the side of the road. Holla!

It took me a few weeks to decide that I needed a palette shelf. So with the help of my handy husband, here's how to create one for yourself!

You'll need:
Palette (duh)
Nail gun or hammer and nails
Sandpaper (optional)
Drill and screws

I planned out how I wanted the shelf to look and where the cuts should be. The top photo shows where to cut with the saw. Use a pencil to mark the wood. Use the saw to cut along those lines. Here's an easy overview: Count two rows of palette boards down and cut across the left and center vertical boards. On the right side of the center board, cut all the way down, both top boards and bottom boards.

You'll have extra boards left over, which no complaints there right? Choose two of the extra boards and secure them as the shelf bottoms with the nail gun. Also, most palettes have old nails so make sure to add some new ones for support all over.

Hanging up your palette can be done a number of ways. I encourage you to find a way that works for you. My husband used the stud finder and just drilled it right to the wall. I was totally fine with that.

Before, that wall was okay but now it's a piece of art! I loved the wood look but it can be sanded and painted too. We have plans on making this corner a coffee and tea area. I'm even more excited to see it decorated in cute white mugs and maybe a witty sign from the shop!

Okay, now be honest. Are you sick of palette projects/items yet or is it still a hot trend? 'Cuz we just got a truck load (not kidding, like 14 to be exact) of palettes sitting in our garage right now and we're drooling over the possibilities.

Monday, July 14, 2014

3 Things To Remember When Changing Your Brand Name

Guys, I have a confession. It's been about a week since I posted last. In the blogging world, I should be dead but alas that's not the case. Honestly, I was pondering how I was going to transform this little space...again. The one consistent thing about running this blog is how inconsistent it's been. This is the part where I normally would beg for forgiveness and make up some excuse about being busy in the "real world." Truthfully...I needed time to think.

You may notice some changes around here and it's probably going to stay that way for a long, long time. The sidebar is all cleaned up and categories easy to access. New profile pic, header layout, appropriate's almost professional up in here! But then again I'm running the show, so good luck. Actually, this works out perfect because I've had this topic sitting in my drafts for like ever. This past February I changed my blog name and it was the best thing. Things clicked for me and all of my years of blogging and running an online shop made sense. Finally. 

Whether you have a blog, shop or both, your brand is important. What do I mean by brand? It's the overall essence of who you are and what you do. And all of that has to nicely fit into a name that speaks about that essence. No pressure. However, these are 3 things to remember when changing your brand name. If you are finding yourself not happy with the title of your blog, shop or business, then you need to stop and take some time figuring out your purpose.

Keep it simple.

When I was debating about changing my brand name, I knew it had to be something everyone could relate to. Both of my previous names had my actual name in it (Art By Jacy, Jacy Lee Pulford). This didn't tell new customers or readers anything about what I was offering! These names didn't sound catchy nor were they reflective of my personality. When choosing a name, go with something that will highlight who you are, not just what you do. It's was easy to put "Art By Jacy" because, duh, tha's what I did and that was my name. But art can mean so many things to so many people and nothing to some people. I had to think of a clear message, appeal to a fresh audience and love it for a really long time. Try not to add more than 4 words to your brand name. Choose something that will be memorable.

Customer contact.

After you have survived the process of choosing your brand name, it's time to implement the change. Pick a date and make that an official relaunch event. Tell your readers, post about it, share it on social media, send it out in the next newsletter...make sure that those who are following you now will be able to find you when your name changes. This includes making sure they are aware of the new url address and any new social media handles. Not connecting with your customers or readers will be damaging to your brand. Take the time and reach out.

Embrace it.

Go all in and be it! Try to avoid being apologetic about changing. Change is some times good and especially when your streamlining a brand. The new name is your new identity and though you might be fearful of the unknown, if you love it, there's nothing to fear. Yes, there will be a moment when you transition things might seem slow. Keep plugging away and embracing the new identity of your brand.

If you're not confident in what you're doing, no one else will be either. Let go of the insecurities and remember that if your brand is not reflecting you, then who is running the show? It's not enough to be passionate about your blog or shop. You must be passionate about your message and the way your brand speaks to people. It's okay to want to change. It's easy to feel like you're stuck but believe me, that's far from the truth! Take a break and refocus.

For me, the decision to change the name came about because if I was going to be working my behind off, I wanted to have a brand name that would be worth the work. At the end of the day, the message needs to be clear, communicated to your followers and reflect the passion inside of you. "Hello Awesome" shows the positive side of my brand and it works!

Have you been thinking about changing your brand name? Nervous, excited, anxious? I'd love to chat about it in the comments! And feel free to shoot me any questions, I'll do my best to answer them.

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